Din Thomas: If I’m Alex Pereira, I’m ‘fighting Jon Jones right now’ after UFC 303 knockout win

Din Thomas thought he had seen it all as a fighter, coach, and analyst, until Alex Pereira graced the UFC with his presence. And now that Pereira is at the peak of his powers, Thomas believes it is time for him to make even more history.

Thomas was part of the broadcast team for UFC 303 this past Saturday in Las Vegas, an event capped off by Pereira brutally knocking out Jiri Prochazka in the opening seconds of Round 2 to retain his light heavyweight title. Following the win, “Poatan” certainly has options: He can stay at 205 and fight a top contender such as Magomed Ankalaev, or he can move up to heavyweight for the chance to become the promotion’s first three-division champion. On top of that, the man currently holding the heavyweight title just so happens to be one of the UFC’s biggest stars and one of the greatest to ever do it.

So for Thomas, the answer is simple: Pereira should shoot for the moon.

“If I’m Alex Pereira, or his manager, I’m going up to heavyweight to fight Jon Jones right now,” Thomas told MMA Fighting. “Jon will decline, but I would be like, ‘I challenged Jon Jones, he declined. Let the record show that that man declined.’ That’s what I would say.

“Or, if he accepted, take the fight. I mean, what does he have to lose [fighting] the greatest of all time, other than becoming the greatest of all time? He has nothing to lose. If I’m Alex, and I’m the manager, I’m going up to heavyweight right now to fight Jon Jones. Why risk an Ankalaev fight? Just go up and fight Jon Jones.”

Jones, along with UFC CEO Dana White, is steadfast on re-booking a fight with former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. While there is a historical aspect to the booking from a promotional perspective, much of the MMA community does not seem interested in the matchup after Jones suffered an injury prior to their original spot at UFC 295.

If the UFC re-books Jones vs. Miocic, and for some reason the latter can’t make it, Thomas can see a world where Jones faces Pereira instead of current interim heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall.

“He might [take the Pereira fight] because he might still have his doubts about Pereira’s grappling,” Thomas said. “I think Jon is more willing to take the Pereira fight than he is the Tom Aspinall fight.

Thomas has seen meteoric rises in the sport over the years, from Jones to Conor McGregor and others who made significant impacts in short amounts of time.

Pereira, in Thomas’ eyes, is an enigma. A unicorn. A fighter who has taken the ball, run with it, put up Hall of Fame numbers, and made the most of situations breaking in his favor along the way.

“In order to be good in this sport, in order to be relevant in this sport, a lot has to happen at the same time — and I consider it luck, really,” Thomas explained. “To be a good fighter — just a good fighter, not a superstar, but to just be a good fighter, to have the skill set to beat people — a lot of things have to happen for you. Like, you have to have the right training, you have to have the right fights, and you just can’t have a lot of injuries. A lot of things have to happen together, working together to make you a good fighter.

“Now to be a superstar, a lot of things have to happen for you, for them to culminate together like it did for Alex in this short amount of time is unreal. I mean, we talk about these supernatural powers, I almost have to think that it [might be] supernatural powers. I remember when the last time I’ve seen something like this was B.J. Penn. B.J. Penn came out, he beat Joey Gilbert, and then he knocked me out and then he fought Caol Uno and knocked Uno out — and this was the time we were the best lightweights in the world. He was just knocking us out, and I said, ‘Man, this man must be possessed.’ And now I’m saying the same thing about Alex Pereira.

“In order to do what he’s doing, because I’ve seen so many good guys come and go and we can’t say, ‘Oh well, he knew kickboxing,’ because there’s been plenty of really good kickboxers to come into the UFC, but none come into the UFC with the determination that this man has, the focus that this man has, the cheat code in Glover Teixeira. He moved to Danbury, Conn., to live and be under the guidance under Glover Teixeira — who had the cheat code that he got from the Chuck Liddell John Hackleman system — and all these things culminated together to make this superstar that we got, and without even speaking English. He’s enough. It’s enough with what he’s doing — from the walkout to the knockouts — I mean, it is absolutely outstanding and we are lucky to be alive in a time of Alex Pereira.”

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